Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dung Beetles and Jane Austen

[Click on the title to find out how dung beetles belong in a post about Jane Austen. You know you're curious!]
Total Weight Loss:
Brandon: 40.4 --he stayed the same.
Moi: 31 pounds exactly! THIRTY-ONE POUNDS! Yes, I consider myself successful. I have 6 pounds left to lose until I reach my goal weight. How, you ask? How did I do all this? Well, you could go through my archives and find out, but I'll save you the time. In a nutshell? I lost 31 pounds in 6 months because I never gave up. I worked hard, plain and simple. And honestly? If I can do it, anybody can. Literally anybody can. Because I have the self-control of a dung beetle hanging out on his last pile of dung. Yes, it's gross, but so was my lack of self-control. It was gross. [And you thought I was going to compare the movie to beetles! Silly, reader. :) ]

Having stubborn pride, I refused to see Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway. The previews made me seethe inside. It was a presumptuous and arrogant idea that brilliant women are only brilliant if they are inspired by men. (Please excuse me while I throw-up.) I was happy to write it off as another attempt at Hollywood to rob us blind --especially Austen fans that would most likely go in droves to see the film. Which they did. I found it insulting and I refused to be taken for a ride. However, now that I have watched Miss Austen Regrets, I think I might have to watch it. If only for research purposes. Or to ridicule it. Or maybe fall in love with it? Who knows?

Now, I watched Miss Austen Regrets Sunday night with great trepidation. Even Olivia Williams (who starred as Jane; and should be noted that she played Jane Fairfax in Emma, the Kate Beckinsale version that we will see in this Masterpiece series) had a few feelings of trepidation herself in making the film. How could she not? Jane Austen is not a character to be taken lightly. People are very protective of their ideas of Jane. Not that I know anybody like that! Ahem.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the film:

For the most part, it was confusing. Brandon kept asking me questions because new characters were constantly introduced and he wasn't sure what was going on --I only "kind of" knew because of my own research into Jane's life. Still, I was impressed with Olivia William's depiction and interpretation of the character. She was beautiful, graceful, believable, even looked the part of a witty, feminist, satirical author. What gave me even greater comfort? What they got right:
  • Jane's favorite brother Henry was indeed a banker and her literary "agent", and he did later become a vicar, after losing all his money and creating financial problems for his brothers.
  • Jane was in love with a young man who she could not marry and never saw again.
  • Jane did accept and then quickly reject a proposal from a man that could have financially saved them all.
  • Jane loved to dance and lived to write.
  • Jane's sister was her closest friend.
  • Her wit and "forward-thinking" ideas.
  • Telling her neice, Fanny, that she shouldn't marry if there was no love.
  • The Prince Regent wanting her to dedicate Emma to him and the meeting with the royal librarian.
  • Dying slowly of a disease she tried to hide.
  • Cassandra burning her letters after her death.
  • Jane wanting to write professionally for money.

What they might have made up (and got wrong):

  • Falling in love with a young doctor...?
  • There's no record that her uncle (the Bridges guy) ever proposed to her (and frankly, having him in the story was rather confusing. At first, I thought his character was the Biggs guy she had accepted than rejected, but it turned out to be her uncle, which was just...jarring and strange.)
  • Being massively flirtatious with the menfolk.
  • Being fond of the liquor.
  • Her irreverent character.

Those statistics (what they got right versus what they got wrong) were highly in the movie-makers' favor. I came away from the movie, not necessarily in love with it, but with deep respect for the director, screenplay, and attempt at recreating a life we know very little about.

Final Result? As a wonderful film I'd want to see over and over? Eh. Perhaps. But as a true depiction of Jane Austen's life? I was very well pleased, indeed.

What did you think?


Katie said...

Wow, I'm the first. Let's hear it for Eastern Standard Time. I am pretty much on the same page with you. I think it is hard to depict someone's life that we don't know a whole heck of a lot about. I did like the lady that played Jane. I thought she did a good job showing the inner struggles that go on inside of her. I don't know about the doctor either? That was weird. But, I think they were trying to show that 1) she was past her prime (could this be Utah? haha), 2) that she could still fall in love and 3) that she had experience in the love (or extreme like) department.

It is interesting that so many of her heroines married for love AND money...where she made the choice. I am sure there is some deep therapeutic meaning behind her writing as far as her own healing goes. Anyway, it was not a bad movie, but I am not sure I would watch it again. It was a little dull and I agree that I kept getting confused over who is who, etc.

Jolene said...

I totally agree with your review. I found it a little boring and hard to follow.

I did not like the amount of liquor that she consumed.

I loved that I recognized some of the letters from the Letters from Pemberley books.

I saw Becoming Jane and actually really loved it. It deals with a younger Jane and though much of it was pure fiction it did give a little glimpse in to what life would have been like for girls in that era.

Congrats on your weight loss. I know the hard work it takes and I admire your ability to report it on your blog. I have been on a weight loss journey myself but I have been much more vague on my blog.

Have a great day. (and I wasn't as grossed out as you might think by the dung beetle analogy)

Hillary said...

WOW! Way to go on the weight loss. I'm so impressed! It gives me hope. I haven't seen Jane Austen Regrets, but maybe I'll look into it now.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much agree with your review. I must have been confused as well because for some reason I was thinking that Bridges was Jane's Brother's Wife's Brother, not an uncle.

What I liked most about the movie was how I felt about Jane Austen when it was over. She wasn't willing to sacrifice her principles (marry without love just to take care of her family), but she was willing to sacrifice some of her own chance at happiness (marry for love and not be able to ensure her family's comfort and security).

I don't know about the whole heavy on the sauce flirting thing. I suspect that was to help show that she was fun and unconventional, and more concerned about being herself than propriety or what others thought of her.

P.S. I just found your blog from a link on MMW, and I'm enjoying it. Good luck with your last 6 lbs! That's great!

P.P.S. I also just tried to post a comment before, but never saw it show up. If it's in some queue waiting for approval, I apologize for the double-posting. Please feel free to delete either one.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should say "she was willing to sacrifice some of her own chance at happiness for the sake of her family (she wouldn't marry just for love if it meant not being able to ensure her family's comfort and security).

It bothers me when I think I've been unclear. I'll be quiet now.

Cheryl said...

No worries. I love it when people comment and I hope you do it again in the future! (But no, there wasn't a comment in queue.) I also hate making grammatical mistakes, etc. and I usually try to correct them. Probably too often. Thank you for your thoughts!!

Thank you!

I'll have to think about Becoming Jane as just a great period piece when I watch it. Thank you for your thoughts about it. And hey, you should blog more about the weight loss! I have found that when I blog about it, I have to be held more accountable to it, you know? Perhaps that's why you don't...? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

I love your last line: "I am sure there is some deep therapeutic meaning behind her writing as far as her own healing goes." I'm absolutely positive that you are right.

Madsens said...

Hey :) Thank you for your comments on my blog about my own weight loss - it certainly is a challenge and easier when shared ;) CONGRATU-FREAKING-LATIONS on yours - what a milestone!! That last 6 to go will be a breeze.

Sorry that I can't really join your comments of Jane Austen...I think I am the only girl out there that has not read the books...and I only watched the movie Pride and Prejudice once, but can't really remember it. However, your comments and those above have inspired me to add them onto my "must read" list for this year :)

Darilyn said...

Hi, I found your blog off of Amanda's and after reading your list of things you want to do I knew I had to check out your blog. I too love Jane Austen and I enjoyed Sunday nights movie. What I liked least about it was how it did portray her as quite irreverent. That bothered me. That and the drinking. But other than that I enjoyed it.

Cheryl said...

Welcome! I'm glad you came over, although I'm not nearly as exciting as my list... :)

Cheryl said...

Christy (madsens)-
What!? You've never read Austen? Okay, girl, now you have a challenge from moi. Read one (I'd start with Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion) and then let me know what you think. :)

And you are doing awesome on your own weight loss! Keep it up!